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Facebook salesfolk will sell you an ad, but they can't help your posts rise atop news feeds. "The sales team doesn't know the nitty-gritty of Facebook. When you get into the science behind it, they don't understand it all," says Chris Tuff, director of earned and emerging media at the ad agency 22squared. So if you'd like some help, solicit an invitation to a private Facebook group known simply as Social Marketers. Its 380 members (as of July) parse the platform's API and help one another exploit it. "We just got wind of some new things coming over the next year," Tuff says. "Minds are going to be blown. It's about to get a lot more sophisticated and confusing. We're reliant on each other to figure out what all these changes mean."
Want to join the club? Best of luck. Here's a primer:
Name: Social Marketers
Founder: Tyler Willis, VP of business development for Unified, a marketing-technology platform for big brands
Who's involved: A mix of marketers, agency execs, and entrepreneurs. Notable members include Ekaterina Walter, Intel; Scott Monty, Ford; Esteban Contreras, Samsung; Jeff Widman, Pagelever.com; and Matt "Matty Mo" Monahan, CEO and founder, AlphaBoost, a social advertising tool.
How to get invited: Members can bring others in, but it doesn't happen often. "You have to be very discerning because you're essentially being judged on who you invite," Tuff says. He earned his entry after speaking at the AllFacebook Marketing Conference.
What to do if you're in: Participate. "Tyler Willis will say, 'Everyone comment on this post because I'm weeding out people who aren't active,' " Tuff says.
What not to do: Self-promote. Also, don't let many clients into the group. "Us being ahead is why they hire us," says Tuff.
Regular conversation topics: New tools, EdgeRank changes, and winning campaigns.
General consensus: General Motors was foolish for pulling its Facebook advertising.
Reliably controversial topic: Google+.
Vibe: "It's much more on the community side," Tuff says.
A version of this article appeared in the September 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.